Director David Kievit brings Hamlet to life this week in Taft's Woodward Theater in a most extraordinary way: six students will share the role of Hamlet.
"Many years ago, I saw a production of this play in which the role of Hamlet was played by four actors," notes Kievit, "three men and one woman. They were always on stage together sharing lines, thoughts, and emotions."
The dynamic, he says, was a "formidable force," and one that added clarity to the storytelling and to the theatrical experience.
"When I watched other productions with one actor in the role I sometimes thought that if I could just take him out to the lobby for a minute or two I could straighten this whole thing out. But with four I never had that thought," Kievit says. "Hamlet does a great deal of introspection and having another Hamlet to talk to—or talk with—at times can be comforting and unnerving for the other characters in the play."
Among those other characters: the ghost of Hamlet's father, shared on stage at Taft by four faculty members, all English department faculty credited with helping shape the show's dramaturgical perspective. This production was abridged, directed, and set designed by Kievit.
The Tragedy of Hamlet, Prince of Denmark opens in Taft's Woodward "Black Box" Theater Wednesday, February 14 at 1 pm. Additional performances are scheduled for Thursday, February 15 at 7:30 pm; Friday, February 16 at 4 pm, and Saturday, February 17 at 7:30 pm. All performances are free and open to the public. Tickets are not required.